Traditionally, most tourists like to visit Santorini in the summer months. Summer makes up the high season and is considered the best time for visiting the island if you like to swim and sunbathe. However, what most people fail to mention is the scorching heat and the inflow of tourists the sunny days bring to Santorini.
If you’re not a big fan of sweaty crowds and busy beaches, the best option for you might just be to visit Santorini in winter. Sure, you won’t get to swim in the sea or show off your abs, but you’ll still have a great time on the beautiful island!
Why You Should Visit Santorini in Winter
There are multiple benefits to visiting Santorini during the low season. The obvious one is – you’ll avoid all the tourist crowds.
While meeting new people and rubbing elbows in restaurants may not bother many people (especially the young crowd), others may find it quite bothersome.
If you belong to the latter group, you will surely appreciate the empty streets, restaurants, and tourist attractions on your trip to Santorini. Places like the Castle of Oia viewpoint are best enjoyed alone or with a few close people.
While many places shut down during the winter months, many stay open! You can visit all the museums and tourist attractions, eat at the best restaurants and cafes, and walk around the empty streets and alleyways of Santorini.
The winter months are not great for clubbing and nightlife, as most of the clubs and bars shut down until the summer. However, you will certainly find other ways to entertain yourself.
The same goes for beaches. As the weather in winter does not permit swimming, all the beach vendors close shop till tourists come back.
How Cold Is Santorini in Winter?
It starts to get a little chilly at the end of October when the low reaches 17 C degrees.
November temperatures range between 18 and 14°C degrees. The temperatures continue to drop in December (reaching 11 C degrees) and January (reaching 9 C degrees). Don’t worry, it doesn’t always get as cold as that!
You might get lucky and enjoy pleasant temperatures ranging between 15 and 20°C degrees.
February is still relatively cold. The temperatures start to pick up in March. The end of May usually marks the beginning of the tourist season.
The rainy season in Santorini starts in November and ends in March. January sees the most rain in the whole year. If you’re visiting in January, don’t forget to bring your umbrella and raincoat!
Keep in mind that it might still be quite warm for Europe, around 14°C degrees. The rain stops around March and makes space for more sunshine.
Things to Do in Santorini in Winter
Santorini is more than just beaches and bars. There are so many things you can do that don’t require you to wear a swimsuit. What you choose to wear is up to you, but be prepared for slightly colder weather on your journey through the island!
1) Explore the main towns of Santorini
The capital of Santorini is Fira. You can start your journey through Santorini here, as it probably has the most to offer in terms of culture and sightseeing. For instance, you can visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. The items showcased in the museum refer to the times when Fira was still called Thera, hence the name of the museum.
It will take you a few hours to go through the whole collection of items in the museum and learning about interesting facts about Santorini. So take your time and dedicate at least half of one day to it.
Another great town in Santorini is called Oia. Oia is located a short 25-minute drive from Fira. You can rent a car, take a taxi, or even take the bus for the most budget-friendly solution.
Once you get to Oia, you will be submerged in the traditional Greek whitewashed esthetic. Walk around the village and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
Take a trip to the Naval Maritime Museum that tells the story of sailing in Santorini. Then, before sunset, make your way to the Oia Castle. The castle is known for its viewpoint that has the best view in town.
The viewpoint can get very crowded in the summer months, but you’ll have the place all to yourself if you go in winter.
2) Visit Skaros Rock
Skaros Rock is a rock formation located in the village of Imerovigli in Santorini. The rock used to be the center of the town of Skaros that was built around it. As earthquakes began to take place more frequently, people populated other areas, such as Fira. Visit Skaros Rock for the beautiful view from the top. If you’re a sucker for views like us, you won’t regret it!
One thing you’ll never find if you don’t visit Skaros Rock is the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti. The chapel is tucked away behind the rock facing the water, so you can’t see it from the other side of the rock.
3) Go to every beach
Even though you can’t take a dip in the water (though nobody will stop you if you’re brave enough), you can still certainly make your way to the beach. Take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful view of the sea. Listen to the waves crashing and watch the sun go down, this time, fully clothed (and maybe even wearing a rain jacket).
Keep in mind that most of the beach vendors are closed during the winter months, so you won’t find food or drinks on the beach. In this situation, a great option is bringing your own spread to the beach and having a little picnic. It might be windy, so dress warm!
Perissa Beach is an excellent location for a little wintertime beach adventure. For once, you will be able to have the beach all to yourself with no crowds of tourists and locals in the way.
There are plenty of other beaches you can visit, such as the Red Beach with its classic red cliffs hanging over the volcanic sand. Who says you can only have a beach day when it’s hot out?
Where to Stay in Santorini in Winter
In the winter months, you might want to focus on bigger towns and sightseeing rather than beaches and clubs. Choose where you want to stay in Santorini accordingly. If you want to travel around the island, you can easily rent a car or travel everywhere by bus. If you’re leaning towards the latter, staying in the capital is your best bet.
Staying in Fira
Fira is the largest town in Santorini. That’s where all the public buses leave from and come back to. That makes Fira the perfect option for those who want to travel the island by bus. Since the island is quite small, you won’t have to spend more than 2 hours at a time on the bus.
There is A LOT to Do Fira
Fira is also the best place to stay in Santorini in winter because it has the most to offer in terms of entertainment. Other towns rely heavily on tourist attractions, giving us nothing during the low season. Go to Fira for the best restaurants, sightseeing tours, and entertainment.
Tips to Choose your Stay in Fira
When you’re choosing a hotel, keep in mind that some might be closed till the summer months. Either way, there will be a lot to choose from. Plus, accommodation is cheaper in winter because it’s the low season.
For affordable luxury, check out George & Joanna Suites Santorini. These suites are on the pricier side, but they’re also top-rated. The beautiful interior and central location will make your winter trip a lot better.
Oia is not as fun in winter as it is in summer, so if you want to stay in one place for the whole duration of your trip, we recommend staying in Fira. However, Oia is still worth a visit! For starters, it is a beautiful town. Go there to live your Greek dream with the whitewashed houses and beautiful architecture.
This town is straight out of a postcard, and you will understand what that means as soon as you arrive there. The town’s main attraction is its castle viewpoint located by the Castle of Oia.
There is no shortage of hotels and suites in Oia. Angel Cave Houses are a great option for those seeking a luxurious atmosphere and comfort. The houses offer supreme amenities, such as free WiFi, room service, and a private heated hot tub in each suite. Enjoy your luxurious trip to Santorini at an affordable price.
Firostefani is a little village near Fira, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The place is absolutely stunning. Take your time to walk around the village and appreciate its authentic Greek charm.
Even though Firostefani is quite small, it has a number of cute hotels, apartments, and villas. Splendour Resort Santorini, for example, is a 5-star hotel in Firostefani.
The minimalistic design, impeccable service, and superb amenities reflect that. The best part is – staying at a luxurious resort is quite inexpensive this time of year.
How to Get Around Santorini in Winter
Getting around the island in winter is not that different from in summer. You have the same options all year round! Consider the weather as a factor in your decision. Perhaps you would like to enjoy added comfort in times of rain or cold.
Rent a car
Renting a car is almost always the most convenient option. If you have a driving license that can be used in Europe, there is no reason you shouldn’t rent a car.
Driving in Santorini becomes easier in the winter months when there are no tourists blocking your way on the road. You could also potentially find a cheaper car for rent, as the demand for rental cars falls.
With your own vehicle, you can decide where you want to go and when without having to rely on a bus schedule or private transfer to pick you up.
You can rent a car at the Athinios port in Santorini or at the airport. Return the car to the rental on your way back. You can usually find a car for as little as 30 euros a day. Depending on where your accommodation is located, you can ask the receptionist to help you find parking that’s not too far.
Take the bus
Taking the bus is not a bad option either, especially if you’re staying in Fira. Since the island is quite small, the distances are short. You can easily take the bus to the next town, and it wouldn’t take longer than an hour or so.
Of course, it’s not as convenient as having a car, as you have to share your space with strangers and fully rely on the bus schedule. As a result, you’re not as flexible. At the same time, you will also end up paying much less.
Most buses don’t charge more than 2 euros per trip. If you’re interested in learning more about Santorini public buses, visit this website.
Take a taxi
Finally, taxis are available too! You will find the main taxi station by the Athinios port, the Santorini airport, and Fira central bus station.
Because winter is not as crowded as summer, catching a taxi should not be a problem at any time of day. The prices might fall slightly due to a lack of tourism, but don’t expect extremely low prices.
Regardless, the taxi service in Santorini is affordable. You can even use it to travel from one village to another. However, if you plan on doing a fair bit of traveling and having a valid driving license, you should opt for a car rental.
Best Restaurants in Santorini
Greece is known for its delicious food. Even though the island goes into a sort of hibernation during the low season, many restaurants and cafés stay open all throughout the year.
In fact, one of the main Santorini attractions in winter is visiting local restaurants and trying exquisite food. Give these restaurants a try if you’re not sure where to go on your trip to Santorini!
Sunny J is one of the top restaurants in Santorini with 5-star reviews all across the board. The restaurant serves traditional Greek food, as well as Italian and Mediterranean. Sunny J is located right on the beach. Because of its favorable location, the prices are slightly higher than in other places. However, the quality of food and service make up for it!
Vinsanto is located in a beach town called Kamari. The restaurant has some of the best seafood on the island! Pair that with some wine and you’ve got yourself a dinner spot. Many visitors have sounded off about the service being impeccable, which is always a plus. If you find yourself in the town of Kamari and craving some fish, go ahead and make a reservation at Vinsanto!
Tips for Visiting Santorini in Winter
Bring a jacket, you might need it! Winters in Santorini can get as cold as 10 C degrees. A light jacket won’t hurt, especially if you’re planning to take evening walks on the beach.
Bring an umbrella. December and January can get quite rainy. If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time outside, an umbrella can come in handy.
Research winter events. Maybe there is something going on that you don’t know about! There might be a festival, public celebration, or market around the time you visit. For example, Greeks celebrate Epiphany in the beginning of January. Joining the celebration might turn out to be a great experience!
Is Visiting Santorini Worth It in Winter vs Summer?
Whether visiting Santorini in winter is going to be worth it for you depends on you entirely.
The low season has its perks. You will encounter no crazy crowds and drunk tourists in winter. You will feel like you have the island all to yourself.
Driving becomes easier when there are no people around. You can easily go to any given restaurant and not worry about rubbing elbows with strangers.
In other words, Santorini in winter is for those who enjoy privacy and relaxation. You might not have a super exciting time, but you can still enjoy seeing all the sights, walking around, and dining in the best restaurants.
On the other hand, there are some things that you will miss out on. Water activities, like going on cruise ships and swimming in the sea, are not accessible due to the weather.
Sunbathing is not an option either. You will have to bring some warmer clothes with you and maybe even wear a light jacket on your evening walks.
The months of December and January can get quite rainy, which is not ideal for traveling. Santorini is known as a beach destination. If you take away the beach, there is not that much you have left.
One thing’s for sure: if you’re taking a trip to Santorini in winter, don’t make your trip too long, or you’ll run out of things to do!
Nevertheless, we thoroughly recommend visiting the island if you want to take a break from your busy life. Enjoy the calm of the island off duty and gather energy to go back home.
Even though Santorini is best known for its beaches, don’t be afraid to visit the island in winter. You can still enjoy walks on the beach, delicious Greek food and wine, and classic architecture. This time of year, you’ll be able to do so without crowds of tourists and high heat from the sun. Every season in Santorini is beautiful, and winter is no exception!